Love thy neighbour as thyself

Lunminthang Haokip *

Easier Said Than Done: Man is made of multiple thoughts, subtle waves of emotion and crippled means to do what others expect him to do in social interactions. He enjoys no option in choosing his neighbours who happen to have taken residence wherever he moves in search of a temporary or permanent stay place due to job transfer or upward mobility.

More than anyone else, a man meets and pleads with, shares common fencing and uncommon guessing with, suffers silent envy on, and overhears violent outbursts of his immediate neighbours. That makes it natural, by worldly standards, for neighbours to harbour skeptical perceptions and cynical attitudes about one another.

National or Group Animosity: Accidents of history that sentiments of nationals, communities or tribes across the globe find almost impossible to forget and forgive, stemmed out of conflict of interests a geographically bound people gave vent to, down the ages. What was supposedly good for a nation or a community, was imagined to be or actually harmful for another.

Wars have been fought fiercely, public and private property vandalized and violence unleashed in nightmarish clashes, just to defend 'self-respect' or 'jingoistic honour.' At the end of the day, no party can be said to have won despite claims and counter claims to the contrary, when the real casualty was human love for one's neighbor. In the bargain to trumpet hatred for a targeted community or nation, own faults are soft-pedaled and that of others are magnified to get one's aggressive stand justified and supported

Breaking The Heavenly Command: God the Creator, post the fall of man in Eden garden and the subsequent formation of rebellious traits in human nature, gave several commands to the 'masterpiece' of his own creation man to obey for man'sown good. The violation of the 'single' warning to the first parents, that was not to eat the forbidden fruit, compelled the Almighty to give the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), through His faithful servant Moses, to reign in man's wild tendencies.

The Law was necessary for men's good conduct, divine connect and harmonious co-existence. Ever since, breaking God's ordinance by an individual or a group -had never been left un-judged and obedience of the same, never left unrewarded.

A conscience each of us have installed in the head records every utterance or action of ours, in the same manner the black box does for a plane, tells us where we grieved heavenly will. Most troubles which had ripple-effect ramifications,trace their origin in the reckless brinkmanship of an individual who ought to have pondered deeper than 'using the head justto keep his earlobes apart.'

Hatred Jeopardizes The Earth: The Best News channels worldwide, today, thrive in broadcasting and telecasting bad news. Clippings and images of our suffering fellow-human beings on TV screen may upgrade the TRP ratings; but, sadly downgrades the purpose of the living "God who seest us (Genesis 16:13).

" Having said that, the present scenario of global hatred for one another had been predicted by Lord Jesus in His own time: "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places (Matthew 24:7)."

Hate speeches no more raise eyebrows. Countries seem to have axes to grind with one another. East or west, hatred creates a mess. North or south, we fall short of measuring up to whatthe Lord sought in us to see love for one another prosper. Peace-talks, at their best, end up in 'truces' that, like glass or the human heart, are made to be broken. In Hindi, it's said : "Seesha ho ya dil ko, aakhir, toot jaata hai!"

God Commands Us to Love Our Neighbour: The Lord knew the deplorable condition of the human heart. The same was pointedly written in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can knowit?" The heaven-prescribed remedy for this 'incorrigible malady was 'to obey the Word of God' that prominent players down the centuries knew they could ignore only at their own peril.

Knowing that hatred could shatter the hater, in giving laws of personal conduct to His chosen people, Jehovah clearly underlined the absolute necessity for one to love one"s neighbor, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:17 & 18)."

Many Facets of Love: Love is general in knowledge; universal in heritage; yet, multi-dimensional in usage. The four-letter word may be used to imply feelings romantic, issues philanthropic, reasons ethnic, and affection platonic. But the intense and passionate love of God for souls-gone-berserk, that scaled the highest-water mark of loving, and that manifested in all conceivable forms to reform and save candidates for hell-fire, stands a thousand notches above every other type of love that mortals understand in the fleshly sense.

Carnal love knows no sacrifice. We may not admit candidly, but at times, in order to rope in our friends to fit in our scheme of things, we go on an over-acting over-drive to pretend to love them. But, the truth remains, in such instances, if our hearts are fine-tuned to call a spade a spade and not a bloody shovel, that 'we love ourselves through others.'

Love God First: The divine insistence in Deuteronomy 6:5, "And Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" speaks all of the highest spiritual love. The verse also presupposes that no man can truly love his neigbour before loving Jehovah God for what He is worth.

True repentance for one's own sins coupled with identifying oneself with the agony of the crucifixion of our 'sinless' Saviour to salvage us sinners from surefire eternal destruction, otherwise, will evoke a distilled desire to reciprocate the supreme love of the Creator by 'loving our neighbour as ourselves.' This seemingly tough ordeal will be no great deal when the 'sin nature' is dealt firmly on the cross through brokenness and acceptance of Lord Jesus Christ as one's personal Saviour.

"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripeswe are healed (Isaiah 53:5)."

Who Is My Neighbour?: Some of us may get a trifle baffled as to 'who is my neighbour that I am commanded to love? The familiesshelterednorth, south, east and west of my house? Or are they the compatriot dwellers in my locality, district, state or country? Yes and more. The 'certain Lawyer' who Jesus encountered in Luke Chapter 10: 25-37, when told 'to love his neighbour as himself,' attempted to justify himself by asking, "Who is myneighbour?"

The Lawyer-under-scrutiny might have thought that his love for the people around him was beyond doubt. But our Lord could read his mind and struck the over-confident Lawyer's vulnerable spot by narrating the parable of the Good Samaritan; and caught him on the wrong foot.

All Needy People Are Our Neighbours: A man sojourning from Jerusalem to Jericho was looted, stripped of his raiment and wounded. The Priest and Levite, believed to be the bearers of virtue, who passed by, didn't lift a finger to help the half-dead man on the road. But the Samaritan, who the Jews looked down upon, did what he could to help and got the injured man whole, "And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him (Luke 10:34)."

Awaiting To Be Loved: Look around your surroundings. There is no dearth of fate-forsaken brothers and sisters who were born less-fortunate for no fault of theirs. God expects usto play the proactive role of the Good Samaritan to the world of suffering, needy and sicklyfolks, PwDs, orphans, and those deprived of the means of living, everywhere; and that, we should take good care of and generously shower LOVE upon them.

And above all, to take pains to save a soul is the greatest form of love. Jesus did that for us, It's our turn now to love our neighbours back, as He did. "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30)."

Lunminthang Haokip

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be contacted at ltphai1972(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on 15 June, 2017.

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